Botox Lawsuit Over Death of Girl with Cerebral Palsy Ends in Defense Verdict

A California jury has ruled in favor of drug maker Allergan, Inc. in the first Botox lawsuit to go to trial, involving the death of a 7 year-old girl with cerebral palsy who received Botox injections to alleviate muscle problems associated with her disability.

The verdict was handed down Tuesday by an Orange County jury in a wrongful death Botox lawsuit brought by Dee Spears, the mother of Kristen Spears. The jury deliberated for under three days before returning a defense verdict. At trial, the drug maker argued that Spears’ November 2007 death was caused by complications of her cerebral palsy, not a result of a Botox overdose that weakened the muscles that controlled her ability to breath, as the mother alleged.

Botox is approved for both cosmetic use to reduce the appearance of wrinkles in the skin and to treat medical conditions such as strabismus (crossed eyes), hyperhidrosis (excess sweating), cervical dystonia (involuntary contractions of the neck muscles) and blepharospasms (involuntary blinking of the eye). However, it also commonly used off-label at high doses to treat stiff and jerky movements associated with cerebral palsy in children.

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Minute quantities of Botulinum Toxin A are contained in Botox, which is the bacteria associated with the muscle paralyzing condition Botulism. A number of adverse event reports have been associated with side effects of Botox, where the medication spreads from the area of the injection to other parts of the body. These Botox problems have most commonly been seen among children with cerebral palsy, where the typical Botox dose is substantially larger.

In February 2008, the FDA issued a warning about the risks associated with use of Botox to treat cerebral palsy, after receiving a number of adverse event reports involving sudden death, breathing problems and other potentially life-threatening injuries. A “black box” Botox warning was added to the medication in August 2009, warning about the risk of botulism-like side effects, such as swallowing and breathing difficulties, that can occur if the injection spreads to other areas of the body.

More than a dozen people have filed lawsuits over Botox against Allergan, alleging that the company illegally promoted the medication for non-approved uses and failed to adequately warn about the risk of these severe and potentially life-threatening Botox injuries.

1 Comments

  • KellyAugust 4, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    So very sorry and angry about this verdict!!!! My heart goes out to this Family, as I can imagine all the pain and suffering they are enduring! My 43 yr. old brother is no longer able to work in any capacity and dying due to Botox paralyzing his swallowing musculature after third round of injections to treat muscle spasms in his neck 4/4/10, at which time he weighed 164 lbs.. His weight today 8/4[Show More]So very sorry and angry about this verdict!!!! My heart goes out to this Family, as I can imagine all the pain and suffering they are enduring! My 43 yr. old brother is no longer able to work in any capacity and dying due to Botox paralyzing his swallowing musculature after third round of injections to treat muscle spasms in his neck 4/4/10, at which time he weighed 164 lbs.. His weight today 8/4/10 is 122 lbs.. He is 6'2 and father of two. NO ONE at Kaiser Permanente has or will take responsibility and we have had to fight for and ARRANGE ALL follow up care. After x-rays taken days after injections revealed lung aspiration and pneumonia he was sent home. 2 days later I took him to ER suffering extreme dehydration and malnutriton. He went code blue, in front of his children, while waiting for someone to install a feeding tube and lived in intensive care on a ventilator for 11 days! The Neuro who administered the injections admits to me that the only knowledge of the many life threatening events since 4/4/10 he got was from ME, because I contacted him by phone on three occasions! HE should have been following up closely and taken charge of my brothers care! This Doctor also admits my brother was only the second head and neck patient he had administered Botox to. At the time of the last injections on 4/4/10 this Doctor attempted to also inject steroids into my brothers neck. The needle broke in his neck and sprayed steroids and blood, very chaotic reaction from the Doctor who ran from the room cursing to get clean up supplies! Each time we ask if the effects of the Botox will wear off we are told 2 weeks, 2 months, 4 months.... this is now the 5th month and there are NO signs of improvement! I asked the Neuro if the effects could be cumulative/permanent? He admitted it was possible. He NEVER told us that before. Co-payments for visits, procedures and medication incurred since 4/4/10 are several hundreds of dollars, and my brother has lost his 7 year employment with the School District, His health insurance, all quality of life, and most of his will to live. That's ALOT for a young man, Father of two, who has been living with and financially supporting our 69 year old Mother who is stage 4 Breast Cancer that has spread to her lungs and liver! They now face foreclosure on their modest manufactured home.

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